Former Equinix CEO Steve Smith lands boardroom place at Flexential

18 April 2018 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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The man who suddenly resigned as CEO of Equinix over “poor judgment with respect to an employee matter” has joined the board of Flexential.

Steve Smith quit his job in mid-January and will now join the board of directors of Flexential, the new name for the data centre company created from the merger of ViaWest and Peak 10.

Flexential’s CEO Chris Downie said about the appointment: “I know that his experience leading growing businesses like ours will prove invaluable.” The company made no mention of the circumstances of Smith’s departure from Equinix. Downie said: “Steve understands first-hand how a relentless focus on customers brings growth and scale, and we look forward to working closely with him.”

David Mace, managing director of GI Partners, the private equity company that owns Flexential, said: “We have known Steve for years and welcome him as an independent director at Flexential. His leadership and deep experience in the IT infrastructure space will be extremely beneficial as we continue to execute on our strategic vision for the company.”

Smith and Equinix have managed to keep a tight lid on the circumstances of his departure. The Equinix board accepted his resignation on 19 January and reported it that day to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), but the company made no public announcement until 25 January.

That six-day gap explains why Smith dropped out of a panel at the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) conference in Hawaii on 21-24 January. He had already quit, but conference delegates were not told that, just that he was unable to take part. Bevan Slattery, founder and chairman of Superloop and Megaport, took Smith’s place. Since then no details have emerged about the “poor judgment” or about the employee or employees concerned.

The company’s filing to the SEC said Smith had no “disagreement with Equinix over any of its operations, policies or practices”. The press release the following week said the resignation “was not related to the company’s operational performance or financial condition, both of which remain strong”. Equinix appointed executive chairman Peter Van Camp as interim CEO, a position he still holds.

Now Smith will be working around the same boardroom table as Flexential’s executive chair, Nancy Phillips, who founded ViaWest in 1999. Flexential’s website says Phillips “serves on numerous boards in support of the industry, the Colorado community and the advancement of women, including the National Center for Women and Information Technology”.